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Fat Cai (Hair Vegetable)


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I heard that Fat Cai was banned to be excavated by Zhu Rongji in late '90s. But just before Chinese New Year I could still find it in the grocery store in Chinatown grocery store.

Fat Cai as well as dried oyster are the main ingredients of New Year's Dish -- Ho See Fat Choy (Cantonese pronounciation).

Since dried oyster is synonmous in sound with Ho See (good business) while Fat Cai is synonmous with Fat Choy (prosperity), this dish is a must on dining table in Cantonese families during the New Year (I don't know about the northern custom).

However, eating of Fat Cai is also the culprit that drove Beijing airport to close down twice last year due to the windstorm.

It is also the leading factor of China's desertification. (Another factor is the overgrazing of cashmere-yield goats.)

Fat Cai is actually the underground moss that is underneath the grassland in Inner Mongolia. Owing to the hefty price it can fetch in the market, the peasants in Shaanxi and Shanxi went to Inner Mongolia to dig up all these Fat Cai to sell in the market. Once these mosses are gone, the grass does not grow back after winter. The sand accretes and the grassland becomes desert.

Fat Cai actually tastes bland.

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